INVESTIGATING THE BIBLE:
Scientifically Inductively Objectively
(Investigator 52, 1997 January)
For the purpose of investigating the Bible, I do not assume the Bible to be either true or false.
Christians, Scientific Creationists and sectarian religions assume the Bible true. This often leads to circular reasoning.
sort of example of
circular reasoning is:
The circularity in this reasoning is that it's already being assumed that what the New Testament says about Jesus including his conduct and his statements about himself is all correctly reported.
In other words the Bible is, from the start, assumed to be true.
The process is therefore a useless tautology.
Nor do I assume the Bible to be false, as do most skeptics, atheists, non-Christian religions and agnostics.
For the purpose of my investigations the Bible is taken as a set of statements, each of which might, prior to being tested, be either true or false.
After allowing for context, figures of speech, poetry, literary structure and (rarely) differences in manuscripts, statements are evaluated as to what they are – whether true or false.
World International Publishing Ltd Great Britain) says:
The Encyclopedia Britannica under Sensory Systems shows that snakes do hear. [See article about cobras from #94 on this website – Ed.]
This is one success for "Biblical Inerrancy".
This approach is objective.
This approach also cuts across skeptical hype, theories in theology and sectarian dogma.
This approach also avoids the logical error of assuming correct what we're investigating.
I'm particularly keen to investigate Bible statements which are or were contradicted by other books, authorities or people.
After testing a large number of statements I generalize the result, that is, I reason inductively. Anyone who trusts a friend who is regularly reliable is using inductive reasoning and anyone who won't trust a known liar is also using inductive reasoning.
In all areas of life we generalize from what is known (including from experience) to the unknown.
Similarly, I generalize the % true, or the % false, of tested Bible statements to statements not yet tested including those which are currently untestable.
Sometimes I test statements from a number of different areas or topics such as biology, medicine, history, geography, psychology, etc. (See Investigator No. 31 & No. 46)
At other times I limit myself to one topic.
For example in Investigator No. 50 we considered places and people named in the Old Testament.
In rounded-out figures about 300 of 900 places named have historical/archaeological support and about 50 of 2,900 people named have independent support. None of the 900 or the 2,900 are definitely refuted.
Therefore I generalized and predicted that all of the 900 and all of the 2,900 are correct and more and more will be scientifically confirmed.
Dr John Roffey, lecturer intheology at Flinders University, said regarding the place-names and predicting that all 900 places existed: "I cannot disagree with that because it cannot be disproved. But I don’t think archaeology will find sites corresponding to all Biblical names."
Regarding the claim that 2,900 people named in the Old Testament really existed Dr Roffey said: "It's the same as with the other names. Most people in the pre-Exile period were not highly literate. They would live their lives and go and not leave written records.<>"Without written records we rely on archaeological records such as pottery, stone tablets, door posts and coins – unless more scrolls turn up. With the Dead Sea Scrolls we were lucky they hadn't rotted away."
At any rate we have an inductive generalization which future research will strengthen, weaken or leave as is.
If samples of Bible statements in many areas or topics are tested and all turn out either correct, or at least unrefuted, then the theory of the Inerrancy of the Bible is a scientifically established theory.
The philosophical question of defining when inductive generalizations are valid is unsolved. If it were solved we'd always be able to predict the future accurately!
and Arguments An Introduction, we read:
discover many accurate
statements in the Bible possible hypotheses might include:
There is no automatic way of deciding which hypothesis is right.
My method is to generalize that which we investigated – the percentage of Bible statements which are accurate or unrefuted.
If this percentage is l00% it implies the hypothesis or theory that the original Scriptures of the Bible are without error.
This theory is then tested, by testing further testable statements.
Testing of further statements would be tests of the theory of Biblical Inerrancy to see whether it stays unfalsified. And if each Bible statement tested continues to turn out correct, or unrefuted, we retain the theory.
(In that case wise skeptics will consider the further inductive step of contacting via prayer the God revealed in the unrefuted Bible!)
In doing all this testing we must recognize that the Bible includes poetry, symbolic language and over 100 categories of figures of speech. Someone who takes literally what is a figure of speech will seem to have refuted something in the Bible but further examination will reveal that he has simply misunderstood.
Note also that often the language in the Bible is the language of perception – i.e. what an observer at ground level perceived, or perceives or would have perceived. A simple example is the phrase, "When the sun rose..."The above explanation explains the rationale for my investigations into the Bible for Investigator.